Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pragya Thakur, who is known for her controversial statements, termed on Thursday Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a “patriot”.
“Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt [patriot], is a deshbhakt and will remain a deshbhakt. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within, such people will be given a fitting reply in the election,” she said.
Thakur, who is standing as the ruling party’s candidate in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal was asked to respond to an ongoing controversy over south superstar-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s remark that “Godse was the first Hindu extremist of independent India”. She is the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast in which six people were killed and more than 100 injured.
Gandhi was gunned down in 1948 inside the compound of Birla House by Godse, an advocate of Hindu nationalism.
Condemning her comments, the BJP said she should apologise. “BJP does not agree with this statement, we condemn it. Party will ask her for clarification, she should apologise publicly for this statement,” party spokesperson Narasimha Rao said.
In a highly polarised campaign in Bhopal, the 49-year-old made controversial remarks like “cursing” Hemant Karkare, who died during the Mumbai attacks in 2008, and bragging about participating in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.
Meanwhile, Thakur’s spokesperson and BJP leader Hitesh Bajpai was quoted as saying that she had apologised for her remark.
Asked whom she had apologised to, Bajpai said: “That is not an issue, but she apologised and took back her statement.”